Bryan Hamilton (born 31 December 1946, Belfast) is a Northern Irish football player and manager. He gained 50 caps for Northern Ireland between 1969 an 1980. He managed the national squad for four years in the mid-nineties before being sacked in 1998.
During his playing career Hamilton was twice denied being a winning F A cup semi final scorer by the same referee, Clive Thomas.
1975 witnessed perhaps the most wide open title race in English Football history with as many as seven clubs going into the final weeks of the season with very real title aspirations. Ipswich were one of those seven but unlike their six rivals, they still had dreams of a league and cup double, being the only title contender to reach the semi final stage. Their opponents were West Ham and the first meeting ended in a drab and cautious 0-0 draw. In the replay Ipswich, as favourites, were expected to win and indeed they started much the better side. Their reward looked to have come early in the game when Hamilton burst through to score the opening goal. The linesman bagan running back to the halfway line, as they do when a goal has been scored, and the West Ham players recovered the ball in a hasty bid to kick off and try to strike back when to the astonishment of everyone in the ground, Referee Thomas blew his whistle and declared that Hamilton had been offside. Despite appeals from the Ipswich players to consult with the linesman, whose job it is to decide if a player is on or offside, Thomas refused and the game went on. West Ham players would later claim that they found renewed belief from what they agreed was a bad decision and went on to win the game 2-1, with Hamilton having another goal disallowed, although in the second instance there did seem a hint of just cause.
Two years later Hamilton had moved to Everton. The Goodison Park club had always been among the leading clubs in the land but in the 1970s were suffering under the unprecedented success of their city neighbours Liverpool. Hamilton had become part of a team considered by many pundits as capable of mounting a serious challenge for honours in the years ahead and in 1977 they had shown great cup form in reaching the League cup final, which they lost. In the F A cup they had won through to the semi finals where, as fate would have it, they would face Liverpool. Unlike Hamilton's 1975 experience, this game was a cracker with Liverpool twice taking the lead only to be pegged back by their determined neighbours. With less than three minutes left in the game Ronnie Goodlass swung a cross into the Liverpool penalty area in the direction of Hamilton, which was too low and close for him to stoop and head and too high for him to kick. Hamilton was just five yards out with only the keeper, Ray Clemence to beat and figured that if he made any sort of contact with the ball it would be a goal. Hamilton swung his body at the ball, raising his arm out of the way as he did so and the ball struck his hip, directing it past the Clemence and into the net. Just as in the previous encounter the linesman turned to run back to the halway line while the Liverpool players raced back to kick off in the hope of a last gasp equaliser only for everyone to stop in shock when Thomas disallowed the goal. The replay, for the record was won convincingly 3-0 by Liverpool and Hamilton never played in an F A cup final.
While the first incident is seen as simply a downright poor call, the second created even more controversy when Thomas apparently asked his linesmen after the game to give him a valid reason for disallowing the goal. The linesman in question is reported to have stated that it was neither offside nor handball so he had better think of something good. Thomas would only tell reporters that he saw an infringement. Years later he admitted that he didn't see any such infringement and merely guessed from his position that Hamilton must either be offside or have handled the ball.
Hamilton is now a media pundit working mainly with Eurosport, BBC 5live, Setanta, Today FM (Republic of Ireland), Sky Sports and ITV Anglia.